Turner's The Fighting Temeraire shows a beautiful old sailing ship being towed to port to be broken up by a
steamboat belching smoke and flames. With the sunset in the background, it's the perfect image for the
transition from the beauty of nature to the mechanical pollution of the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution marked the
transition from an agrarian, rural society in
England and her American colonies to an
industrial, urban one.
Before industrialization, manufacturing was
mostly done in homes, using hand tools or
The development of the steam engine was
one of the central improvements that brought
about the transition. Others include
Farraday's electric motor.
Turner's 1838 painting of The Fighting
Temeraire, a lovely old sailing ship being
towed to her destruction by a steam-belching
tug, symbolizes this transition.
The 98-gun Temeraire played a central role
in Nelson's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.
According to the National Gallery, the colorful
sunset draws a parallel with the passing of
the old warship. The paint is laid on thickly
where the sun's rays strike the clouds, while
the ship's rigging is meticulously painted.
Turner uses paint to make you feel what it
was like. In the modern world of 1842, you
can't tell where the sea ends and the sky
Industrialization is not merely a threat in
Turner. He also paints technology being
used to save people from shipwrecks.
And he shows how it makes life faster. In
1844, he paints the first train, a painting that
contrasts the 30-40 miles an hour on a boat
with the 50-60 mph on the train.